Montpelier Board Appoints 11 Members from Descendants Committee

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tags: slavery, historic preservation, James Madison, Montpelier, public history

The embattled Montpelier Foundation Board of Directors on Monday took a step toward structural parity in electing 11 new members from a list of 20 nominees submitted last month by the Montpelier Descendants Committee.

Among the new Montpelier board members overseeing the plantation of President James Madison are scholars and historians, a social justice activist, pastor, attorneys, authors, a financial expert and former CNN anchor Soledad O’Brien.

Controversial board chairman Gene Hickok, completing his fourth term, stepped down.

“This momentous decision brings parity in the governance of President James Madison’s estate. At last, descendants of the hundreds of the persons enslaved by the ‘Father of the Constitution’ and on nearby plantations will now share power on Montpelier’s board,” stated a news release from Cultural Heritage Partners.

The foundation promised structural parity in June 2021 to national acclaim, retracted its commitment in March 2022 to national condemnation, and then appeared to promise it again earlier this month to national skepticism, the release stated.


The appointees are Leslie M. Alexander, Arizona State University; Daina Ramey Berry, University of Texas at Austin; DeAnna Cummings, McKnight Foundation; Michael Higginbotham, a law professor, author and political consultant; Hasan Kwame Jeffries, Ohio State University; Dean Nicole Thorne Jenkins, the John A. Griffin Dean of the McIntire School of Commerce at the University of Virginia; Soledad O’Brien, a journalist and author; Joshua D. Rothman, University of Alabama; Ian H. Solomon, Dean of the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy at the University of Virginia; and the Rev. Lawrence “Larry” E. Walker, a church pastor and administrator in Columbia, Maryland.

Read entire article at Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star

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